Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in July, 2003

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Driving in Europe

Rainer Brockerhoff is back from vacation and he’s penned a surprisingly thorough (and very informative) series of articles about driving in Europe.

If you liked my posts about driving in Europe, you also should read what Buzz Andersen (of PodWorks fame) writes about this subject. And thanks for the kind words, Buzz…

I just saw from my TechnoRati Cosmos that Keola Donaghy, an old friend from my FirstClass BBS days, now has a blog called Radio Keola (and added me to his blogroll). Welcome, and thanks!

Mac OS X users may recall that Keola was the man responsible for making Jaguar (10.2) support the Hawaiian language.


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I’ve been fascinated with typewriters since the age of 8 (to the lasting damage of my handwriting). Here are two interesting specimens I saw in Europe. This one used to belong to the German writer Hermann Hesse; it’s a “Smith Premier No.1”:

In a letter to a friend, Hesse explained that this typewriter’s best feature was that it had separate key banks for lower-case (in white) and upper-case (in black). Apparently Hesse thought that pressing the shift key distracted his thought processes.

This even older model was in a shop’s window in the alpine town of Füssen:

Apparently you had to select the appropriate character on the semicircular dial and then press the single large key in front to print it.


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Some interesting advertising from Europe. On the very first day, inside Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, we ran into this specimen of Lepidoptera Centrinia advertising for Intel. Brrh… I’m glad I have a Mac…

I found this in a small town before München, advertising for a print service bureau:

the left vertical text means “Large formats” and the top horizontal text means “Digital Press”. 😆

This ad was in the Berlin subway. It’s for a campaign pleading “more time for kids”:

and the text says: “Take at least 3x every day: Mom and Dad. Active ingredients: love, trust, recognition, fun”. Cute…

We ended up with some matchboxes with ads from various hotels, but I didn’t want to take them on the plane, as they’re on the list of proscribed items. So I took a picture:

The small matches are only about 15mm long, I certainly didn’t try to strike one.

Here are some more pictures from our Europe trip. Here’s a “Dolce Vita” car from Prague:

(I think it’s a Morris, but I’m not sure.)

This pedal-driven Mercedes for kids was in a Mercedes store on Berlin’s famous Kurfürstendamm:

Despite its appearance, this is not a car:

but rather a tractor for pulling machines for agricultural and road-building work. Notice the lack of a number plate and the central steering wheel. I found this in Berlin’s Technology Museum; it’s from the early 20th century.

When Mercedes launched the A-Class in 1997, one of the first journalists who did a test-drive rolled the car over while performing the “moose test” – a quick avoidance maneuver at moderate speed. Initially this was a public relations disaster, and in Germany the car is still called “the moose”:

To their credit, Mercedes quickly re-engineered all models to include the ESP (Electronic Stability Program), originally meant to be a top-level option, which solved the roll-over problem and also included other safety goodies.

Waaay back in 1972, on my first vacation in Germany with my parents, we decided to buy a used Mercedes. If I recall correctly, it was a 1964 SE220 with automatic transmission, and it cost DM666. That’s about what it looked like:

We drove it for about 45 days and then resold it to my uncle for the same DM666, an excellent deal all around.

Anyway, for these 31 years I had vague plans of eventually buying a Mercedes for myself. For most of that time, it was impossible to import cars into Brazil, except for the odd luxury sedan brought in by diplomatic personnel and then resold. Then, in the early 90s, imports were allowed and several foreign companies started to build factories in Brazil, among them Mercedes. This rekindled the idea, and just before our recent Europe trip we finally bought one:

It’s an A-Class model, also with automatic transmission. here’s another view:

Apparently it’s not sold in the USA, but it’s quite common in Europe.

More about it later…

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